Category Archives: Sports

Floyd Mayweather beats Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision


This fight was a joke, as all these hyped-up fights are. I saw the entire thing from the first bell and all that Mayweather did was retreat. Pacquiao was without question the aggressor, and he landed some good punches. How Mayweather won by unanimous decision is beyond me. And mind you, I really didn’t care who won (I just wanted to see a good fight) so it isn’t as if I’m biased.

Boxing is doomed. These guaranteed purses have destroyed the sport. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Yahoo Sports

Pacquiao of the Philippines fights Mayweather, Jr. of the U.S. in the seventh round during their welterweight title fight in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – The identity of the best fighter of this generation was never really in doubt.

Oh, some wanted to contest Floyd Mayweather’s position as the best boxer of his time and made points of varying strength about the quality of his opposition, the timing of some of his bigger fights and what was perceived as an unwillingness to engage.

Mayweather, though, erased whatever little doubt that remained with an unquestionable victory over Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden in a match which was as much about the incredible sums of money it generated as it was about the talent of the fighters.

Judge Dave Moretti had it 10 rounds to two, or 118-110 for Mayweather. Judges Glenn Feldman and Burt Clements each saw it 116-112, giving Mayweather eight of the 12 rounds. Yahoo Sports had it 115-113 for Mayweather.

“He’s a tough competitor,” Mayweather said of his vanquished foe.

Two months after his 38th birthday, Mayweather turned back the man whom fans have clamored for him to fight for more than five years.

The crowd pulled passionately for the Filipino superstar, who rose from abject poverty to become a politician, a musician and one of the best boxers in the world. Every time he landed, they roared. His best shot came in the fourth when he rocked Mayweather, but he had trouble getting past the jab or penetrating Mayweather’s defense.

On this night, though, he was no match for Mayweather, who improved his record to 48-0 with perhaps the most significant victory of his professional career.

“I thought I caught him many more times than he caught me,” Pacquiao said. “I was never hurt. I was very surprised by the scores. I thought I hit him much more than he hit me.”

With one fight remaining on the contract he signed with CBS/Showtime in early 2013, Mayweather has the opportunity to match the 49-0 record of former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. He said he’d retire after a fight in September.

On Saturday, facing the rival he’d been accused for years of ducking, Mayweather showed his class by cleanly outboxing Pacquiao and winning a unanimous decision. The reach advantage was clear between them and Mayweather popped Pacquiao repeatedly with his jab.

He did it the way he has for the past 19 years, using speed, quickness, impeccable timing, punching accuracy and most of all an incredible ring awareness to throttle his smaller rival.

Pacquiao landed just 81 of 429 punches, a puny 18.9 percent and around the average connect percentage against Mayweather. Mayweather landed nearly twice as many shots, connecting at 34 percent while landing 148 of 435.

There has always been controversy swirling around Mayweather and the days ahead of the Pacquiao fight were no exception. Because of the nature of the match, the interest in the fight was far great and so, too, was the media scrutiny.

His history of domestic violence, which he’d hoped would have been overlooked after his 2012 release from the Clark County, Nev., Detention Center, became a theme of much of the pre-fight coverage.

There were groups protesting outside the arena both on Friday after the weigh-in and on Saturday before the bout. A dispute arose early Saturday when two reporters, Rachel Nichols of CNN and Michelle Beadle of ESPN and HBO, tweeted that they were denied credentials. Both women have covered the domestic violence angle aggressively. Promoters vehemently denied that allegation.

But Mayweather, as he always has been in the boxing ring, was implacable. If any of it weighed on him, it was impossible to tell by looking at him and even more difficult to discern by watching him box.

And so, this era will officially and forever be “The Mayweather Era” – one he dominated not so much with power and knockouts but rather with defensive excellence and marketing brilliance.

He began his career as a highly touted bronze medal winner from the 1996 U.S. Olympic team known as “Pretty Boy” Floyd. He ended it as the trash-talking, bejeweled multi-millionaire who set a new standard for how athletes should handle their careers.

He’s outraged fans, particularly the old-timers, by calling himself “The Best Ever.” And while that’s a gross overstatement and ignoring the greatness of Sugar Ray Robinson and a number of other fighters, a large part of it is marketing shtick to call attention to himself.

But while there is a debate about where he deserves to rank on the all-time list – a panel commissioned by Yahoo Sports ranked him 19th last week, before the fight – there is no doubt that he is the best of his time.

And at the end of the day, that is all that can be asked for a boxer.

So maybe Mayweather is TBE: Just make it The Best of the Era and we can all live with that.

‘Fight of the century’ ready to rumble


Hopefully this fight won’t be a dud as many of the hyped-up boxing matches have turned out to be over the years.

Personally, I hope Pacquiao wins. Mayweather seems to be too much of a thug to me. Although I’m sure the Filipino is no saint either. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

AFP

Fight

Years of debate and months of hype will reach a climax Saturday when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather step into the ring in Las Vegas for the most eagerly anticipated boxing match in recent memory.

The long-awaited bout, which has been more than five years in the making, has transcended the traditional boxing scene, catapulting the sport back into the public consciousness and promising to rewrite the record books as the most lucrative fight of all time.

“Sin City” was buzzing ahead of the welterweight world title showdown and the money men were rubbing their hands: total revenue for the bout could reach an eye-watering $400 million, fueled by as many as three million pay-per-view purchases.

The breathtaking figures — a possible $200 million payday for the unbeaten American and an estimated $100 million bonanza for Philippine icon Pacquiao — have intensified the spotlight on a fight between two of the greatest pugilists of their generation.

As a taster for the main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, a raucous crowd of 11,500 turned out for Friday’s weigh-in, as Pacquiao and Mayweather went nose-to-nose.

The few tickets that did go on sale for the bout itself were reportedly snapped up in one minute, with A-listers and high-rollers making up the vast majority of a 16,800 sell-out crowd, making the fight more akin to a nightout at the Oscars than two men attempting to pound the other to the canvas.

In Las Vegas, tourism officials said occupancy for the city’s 150,000 hotel rooms would approach 100 percent. Casinos were advertising red-carpet events hosted by hip-hop stars such as Puff Daddy and Snoop Dogg and pop star Justin Bieber — a Mayweather fan and friend.

– Clash of styles –

And then there is the small issue of the fight itself, which even if it doesn’t measure up to Mayweather’s claim of the “biggest fight in boxing history,” is an intriguing clash of styles between men of contrasting personalities.

Pacquiao, 36, a two-term congressman with a music and film career, credits the grace of God for lifting him from poverty in his youth and later guiding him away from a life of excess that his ring success made possible.

Streets will be empty on fight night — Sunday morning in the Philippines — as the nation of 100 million cheers its “National Fist.” Guns often fall silent in the war-torn south of the country when the beloved Pacquiao is in action.

The brash Mayweather touts his status as a money-making machine and comes from a troubled past that includes jail time for one of a string of domestic violence incidents.

Mayweather, 47-0 with 26 knockouts, is a 2-1 favorite to add Pacquiao’s World Boxing Organization world title to his own World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council belts.

Public opinion is with Pacquiao; boxing experts say Mayweather to triumph, most likely by 12-round decision.

– ‘I’m ready’ –

Pacquiao, who weighed in a pound lighter, will be in the unenviable position of the smaller fighter, taking more of the risks.

The aggressive southpaw, who owns a record of 57-5-2 with 38 knockouts, says he is content in his underdog role.

A winner of world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, Pacquiao noted that he’s beaten plenty of big foes, among them Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

“No one thought I could beat Oscar, and I was the underdog then,” said Pacquiao, who moved up 12 pounds in weight to batter the “Golden Boy” in a fight that sent him into retirement. “Maybe it’s good for me.”

Once each had stepped off the scale on Friday, Mayweather and Pacquiao came eye-to-eye for a stare down — just their third face-to-face meeting since the bout was announced in February.

Their next will come Saturday night, when they step into the ring.

“I’ve dedicated myself to the sport of boxing for more than 20 years,” Mayweather said. “I’m ready.”

Super Bowl Sunday kicks off with scandal and spectacle


Super Bowl Sunday is finally here! On the surface this appears to be a great game, and hopefully it will be. On the other hand, I would really like New England to destroy Seattle. Brady deserves to get his fourth ring, and it might be now or never… We will know the results in about ten hours. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

AFP

Katy Perry

Glendale (United States) (AFP) – The Super Bowl kicks off Sunday as American football seeks to put a scandal-plagued season behind it, with this year’s spectacle featuring a Katy Perry concert, ultra-expensive commercials and a compelling clash between Seattle and New England.

The extravaganza is expected to draw a whopping 115 million viewers — or about one in three Americans — and amounts to an unofficial holiday in the United States, where even those with no interest in the sport gather at countless Super Bowl parties.

This year’s championship comes with the National Football League battling back from a season of turmoil, accused of complacency and even conspiracy in its handling of issues ranging from domestic violence to concussion dangers.

The latest controversy — accusations that the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs — has dominated news coverage in the days leading up to the game.

Controversy aside, Sunday is a chance for both teams to cement a place in Super Bowl lore with a victory.

Reigning champions Seattle Seahawks hope to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots did so a decade ago, while New England is looking to be the sixth team to win four or more titles — a list led by Pittsburgh with six.

It is a dazzling matchup of old guard versus new, as veteran Patriots quarterback Tom Brady takes on 26-year-old Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson. A clash of coaching styles will also be on display in cool-tempered Bill Belichick and enthusiastic Pete Carroll.

Frenzied fans partied Saturday night around Phoenix and near the University of Phoenix Stadium in suburban Glendale, Arizona, where the game is scheduled to kick off at 4:30 pm (23:30 GMT).

– Something for everyone –

Some novice football fans will be tuning in mostly for the much-anticipated halftime show, which this year features pop princess Katy Perry and rocker Lenny Kravitz.

Perry, known for her flamboyant costumes and hits like “Firework,” “California Gurls” and “Dark Horse,” hinted her performance could feature a surprise guest, but promised clean, family-friendly fun.

Past shows have been marred by infamous nipple-baring “wardrobe malfunctions” or crude gestures that provoked ire from some of the massive television audience.

Over nachos, chili and beer, viewers will also see much-buzzed about commercials, some of the most expensive air time on the market, with this year’s line-up featuring spots from Toyota, Budweiser and Victoria’s Secret.

More than 70 advertisers are paying a reported $4.5 million for 30 seconds of air time during Sunday’s football classic.

– Scandal trails Pats –

The Patriots will take the field trailing a whiff of scandal, with the league still investigating whether they purposely deflated footballs to gain an advantage in their playoff triumph over Indianapolis on January 18.

For critics, “Deflategate” is further proof that Belichick’s glittering post-season resume has been built on the back of rules bent to breaking point.

But even those put off by Belichick’s gruff demeanor find it hard to argue with his five Super Bowl rings — two as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants and three as head coach of the Patriots.

Carroll, on the surface, is the warm and fuzzy opposite of reserved Belichick, but has produced Seahawks teams that even the Patriots coach admires for their “relentlessness.”

Now, Carroll’s Seahawks will try to usurp the Patriots’ throne as the league’s dominant team, gained with Super Bowl titles in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

Brady can join his boyhood idol Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins.

The legacy of 37-year-old Brady is secure no matter what the outcome on Sunday, with a league-leading 49 touchdowns and 7,017 passing yards in the post-season.

His excellence has belied his unheralded entrance into the league in 2000, when New England took him in the sixth round of the entry draft, 199th overall.

– Outstripping expectations –

Wilson, Brady’s opposite number in Seattle, has also outstripped expectations since being drafted in the third round in 2012.

Considered by many NFL experts too small at 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters) to play the position effectively, Wilson outshone Denver’s future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning in last year’s Super Bowl.

To be sure, Wilson was aided then, as he will be now, by the Seahawks’ punishing defense, which has proven capable of dismantling the league’s finest attacks.

Nevertheless, the Seahawks still bring the fire of underdogs, even a Super Bowl triumph failing to erase the sting of being overlooked on draft day.

“It’s not necessarily proving people wrong,” said Doug Baldwin, who, like fellow Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse, was undrafted.

“It’s more … proving ourselves right.”

Former NFL Official Highlights The Biggest Problem With The Controversial Dez Bryant Reversal


Mike Pereira is an imbecile. People like him get to high positions in their respective fields because they’re politicians, and because of who they know, not because of their knowledge or abilities. To try to justify the reversal of the Dez Bryant CATCH is pathetic.

By the way, I’m so sick of this world of political correctness we live in, where grown men are afraid to express themselves and instead shrivel up and say “the right things.” Grow a pair Jason Garrett, tell the media what you really feel, which is “we were robbed,” instead of being so passive.

In the end, Dallas was outplayed by Green Bay. But to have the game end the way it did was a travesty. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Yahoo Sports

Business Insider

Dez

What was an incredible playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, will forever be remembered for the catch by Dez Bryant that was reversed.

Like many watching the game at the time, I was convinced that it was a great catch, but by the letter of the law, it should have been overturned because he did not control the ball going to the ground.

After the game, Mike Pereira, a former NFL official and the former vice president of officiating for the NFL, explained on FOX why the reversal was correct. But after listening to his explanation I am actually less convinced that the right call was made.

The issue comes with whether or not Bryant made “a football move” before losing control. If Bryant does make a football move, it is a catch. One example of a football move is stretching the ball towards the end zone, which it appears that Bryant did.

However, according to Pereira, it was not enough of a stretch.

“If you’re going to the ground, you have to prove that you have the ball long enough to perform an act common to the game and do so,” said Pereira. “And part of that is stretching all the way out and to me even though he moved the ball a little bit forward, they are not going to consider that a football act.”

And herein lies the problem.

Pereira admits Bryant stretches the ball towards the end zone, but apparently it wasn’t enough. So, now the official must determine the degree of stretching and reaching by the receiver as if they don’t have enough to worry about.

It would seem that the player either reaches with the ball or he doesn’t and Bryant pretty clearly tried to stretch the ball forward only being limited in actual distance by his shoulder pads.

After the game, Bryant was just as confused as anyone, saying he reached for the goal line and didn’t understand why it was overturned.

The NFL has one problem when something most observers agree is a great catch is being overturned on a technicality. They have another problem entirely when they are asking officials to judge degrees of stretching.

NFL Wild Card Game of the Week: Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys


My favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, are primed for a Super Bowl run for the first time in years. I truly believe that this year they have a chance to make it happen. Let’s see how this game against the Detroit Lions pans out… TGO

Refer to story below. Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Rushing offense meets rushing defense in the final NFL Wild Card playoff matchup as the Detroit Lions travel to Dallas to take on Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

Christian Science Monitor

The National Football League regular season has come and gone and 2015 begins with four intriguing Wild Card playoff matchups that should keep fans glued to their couches, starting Saturday. Arizona, who just lost out to Seattle for the NFC West title, traveled to Carolina to meet a Panthers team that limped into the postseason with a losing record. Following that game was an all-AFC North bout between the Ravens and the Steelers. Sunday kicks off with the Colts hosting the Bengals, and the weekend ends with the game of the week, as the Dallas Cowboys welcome the Detroit Lions at 4:40 p.m. Eastern time.

Two storied franchises, the Cowboys and Lions have seen very little success since 2000 in the playoffs.  The Cowboys, who won three Super Bowl championships in the 1990s, have only made four appearances in the postseason this millennium, winning one game in that time. The Lions have been even more hapless, only making one trip to the postseason, losing a Wild Card game in 2011.

The Lions come into this year’s playoffs a different team, relying on a stout rush defense and explosive plays in the passing game. The defense, which will have Ndamukong Suh after he won his appeal from suspension, ranks first both in yards per game (69.3) and Defense-Adjusted Value above Replacement (-31.3%). Football Outsiders, which develops the DVOA stat and several other efficiency metrics, also ranks the Lions defensive line best, allowing only 2.83 yards per rush adjusted, and only 0.86 yards at the second level.

The Cowboys will counter with the second best rush attack in the league, averaging 147.1 yards per game, relying almost exclusively on DeMarco Murray. Murray has been spectacular this season, setting a team record for yards (1,845) while scoring 13 touchdowns on almost 400 carries. Murray has been especially durable this season, playing through a hand injury that led to surgery in Week 16.

“One thing that might’ve surprised all of us when we drafted him is how physically tough he is at the end of runs. We saw all of the statistics and production he had in college but at the end of runs he was all going forward,” Coach Jason Garrett told ESPN.com. “He was always going downhill. You thought he made 4, but he made 6. You thought he made 8, but he got a first down.”

The effectiveness of the running game has taken the burden off Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and, as a result, Romo has excelled. This season, the best of Romo’s career, the quarterback leads the NFL in completion percentage, quarterback rating and QBR. A big factor in Romo’s success has been the play of wide receiver Dez Bryant, who has amassed 1,320 yards and a franchise-record 16 touchdowns this year.

This game will be won in the trenches. The Lions must stop Murray and make the Cowboys offense one-dimensional. Murray is not totally healthy and has been worked hard this season. So, Detroit shutting him down early and building a lead through quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson will be essential. Without stopping Murray, the Lions will have to outscore Dallas which is unlikely. Give a slight edge to Dallas and Romo at home in the final Wild Card game of the weekend, which will be televised on Fox.

Dallas Cowboys RB Randle arrested on theft charge


In the wake of what has transpired with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, now you have another knucklehead arrested for shoplifting. Really? Are these guys really that stupid? The obvious answer is yes!

I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, but personally, I hope this guy is suspended for the rest of the season; just for being stupid! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Associated Press

Cowboy

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has been arrested on a shoplifting charge, accused of taking $123 worth of cologne and underwear from a suburban Dallas department store and telling a police officer he thought to himself, “all right, y’all got me,” after a security guard stopped him.

Randle, who is charged with a Class B misdemeanor theft between $50 and $500, was detained Monday evening by store security and later taken to the Frisco city jail before posting bond early Tuesday, police Sgt. Brad Merritt said.

The arrest came a day after one of Randle’s best games since joining Dallas as a fifth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State last season. He had a 38-yard run and a key tackle on a kickoff in a 30-23 victory at Super Bowl champion Seattle that gave the Cowboys their first 5-1 record since 2007.

According to an arrest report, Randle was caught on video placing items later identified as a “tester” bottle of Gucci Guilty Black cologne and a two-pack of Polo underwear into a Dillard’s bag after making a purchase at the store at Stonebriar Centre, about 30 miles north of Dallas.

The 22-year-old Randle was stopped by a security guard in the parking lot and later told a police officer that when he saw the “old guy,” referring to the security guard, he thought to himself, “all right, y’all got me.”

After getting stopped by security, Randle returned to the store and the items were recovered. The cost of the items was $123.50 before sales tax. Randle is in the second year of a four-year, $2.3 million rookie contract with a base salary of $495,000 this season.

Randle, who declined to talk to reporters in the locker room Tuesday, finished with 52 yards rushing on five carries against the Seahawks. He has 113 yards on 16 carries for the season as the backup to NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray. Randle had 164 yards rushing and two touchdowns as a rookie last year.

The Cowboys did not respond to a request for comment over the latest off-the-field news to envelop the team. They are waiting for results of a police investigation into a sexual assault complaint filed last month against special teams player C.J. Spillman in Grapevine, another Dallas suburb.

Spillman, who hasn’t been arrested or charged, has played in all six games for Dallas. Coach Jason Garrett, who wasn’t available Tuesday to address Randle’s arrest, has said Spillman’s status won’t change unless police pursue the case.

___

Staff Writer David Warren in Dallas contributed to this report.

___

Online:

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

 

Chiefs player Husain Abdullah gets penalized after kneeling in Muslim prayer


Here we go… Now all the Muslim kiss-asses (of which there are many in this country) – beginning with the author of this article, will take sides (as they already have) with the player and against the referee. Next thing you know they’ll want the referee either fined, suspended or banned from the league altogether because of discriminating against a Muslim.

The people in this country really and truly deserve what they get from the Muslim “community,” and deserve to get it good and hard. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Shutdown Corner

Kevin Kaduk

Shutdown Corner

Prayer

NFL officiating guru Mike Pereira once said he’d never throw a flag on a player who knelt in the end zone in prayer because he “didn’t want to get struck by lightning.”

That same belief wasn’t shared by the crew working Monday night’s Chiefs-Patriots game.

In a move that is sure to generate some discussion, Husain Abdullah of the Chiefs was flagged 15 yards after kneeling in the end zone in Muslim prayer after scoring a touchdown off an interception of Tom Brady. The unsportmanlike conduct penalty Abdullah received sparked a quick outrage on Twitter where it was noted that plenty of Christian players mark their scores with a sign of deference, reflection or tribute to their higher power.

Abdullah took the high road after the game and said he thought he was penalized for sliding into the prayer, though the head referee cited “falling to the ground on the knees” in announcing the infraction.

While some fans mistakenly said the NFL rulebook provides an exception for praying players, that isn’t exactly true. The excessive celebration rule is actually kind of vague with players “prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground.” Prayer is never specifically mentioned, though Pereira’s comment generally embodies the permissive view that NFL officials usually take toward religious exhibition.

To use an example, Greg Jennings was not flagged for this prayer during Super Bowl XLV  …

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

… while his teammate Nick Collins was penalized 15 yards for this more demonstrative secular celebration in the same game  (the common denominator being that both players were on the ground) …

(Getty Images)

So what happened on Monday night? Perhaps the official who threw the flag on the Abdullah play was unfamiliar with Muslim custom. Perhaps it was something else.

Whatever the case, it’s hard to imagine this story will pass without the NFL issuing comment or clarification. At this point, Abdullah and the NFL’s Muslim fans certainly deserve one.

It’s hard to imagine, however, that Abdullah will have to pay further for his prayer. Here’s what Abdullah’s agent CJ LaBoy said on Twitter late Monday night.

Derek Jeter Wins Last Game at Yankee Stadium


One does not need to be a Yankee fan or even a baseball fan to appreciate a great moment in sports. Derek Jeter’s last at bat at Yankee Stadium, after a 20-year career, was memorable. TGO

Video: YouTube

McIlroy wins PGA in thrilling show on soggy turf


McIlroy seems to be the real deal. Winning 4 Majors at age 25 is no easy task,  only Jack and of course, Tiger, won 4 Majors at a younger age (Tiger was 24). Personally, I wanted Phil Mickelson to win. He must feel sick this morning, losing a Major by just one lousy stroke.

As for Tiger, I believe he’s washed-up. He may win another Major someday down the road, but that’s about it. He’ll never catch Jack Nicklaus now. TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

Associated Press

Rory

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The challenge finally arrived for Rory McIlroy, and he was better than ever to win the PGA Championship.

On a back nine filled with as much tension as a major can provide, McIlroy emerged from a four-man battle with flawless golf to outlast Phil Mickelson and the darkness Sunday at Valhalla and capture his second straight major.

McIlroy closed with a 3-under 68 and became only the fourth player in the last century of golf to win four majors at 25 or younger. The others were Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones, three of the game’s greatest players.

Boy Wonder appears on his way to belonging in that group.

“I didn’t think in my wildest dreams I’d have a summer like this,” said McIlroy, only the seventh player to win the last two majors of the year. “I played the best golf of my life. I really gutted it out today.”

But one of the greatest shows on soggy turf came with a most peculiar ending.

McIlroy hit a 9-iron from a fairway bunker on the 17th hole to 10 feet and made the birdie putt to take a two-shot lead to the par-5 18th. Because of a two-hour rain delay, darkness was falling quickly and it wasn’t certain McIlroy would be able to finish.

He was allowed to tee off even before Mickelson and Rickie Fowler had reached their golf balls in the fairway. Both were only two shots behind and still in the game. McIlroy came within a yard of hitting into a hazard right of the fairway. Mickelson and Fowler had to stand to the side of the green to allow McIlroy to play his second shot.

The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland hit into a bunker and had to two-putt from 35 feet for a one-shot win.

Moments earlier, Mickelson came within inches of chipping in for eagle. He settled for a 6-under 66 and a runner-up for the ninth time in a major. Fowler, the first player in history to finish in the top five at all four majors without winning, also had a chance with a long eagle putt. He missed badly, and then missed the short birdie putt.

Fowler closed with a 68 and tied for third with Henrik Stenson, who also had a share of the lead until missing a 3-foot par putt on the 14th putt. He never recovered from that and shot 66.

McIlroy finished at 16-under 268. The victory was his third in a row, following the British Open and World Golf Championship event last week at Firestone.

Performance against US proves Belgium is for real


I’m rooting for Belgium in this one… Those self-centered Argentinians need to learn to be a bit more humble, and what better way to show them they’re really not that good than to defeat them in one of the world’s biggest stages! TGO

Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press

AP – Sports

Soccer

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — The stirring performance against the United States provided a shot in the arm for Belgium, and some more.

Now, with its reputation restored in the wake of a 2-1 victory over the Americans in the second round of the World Cup, Belgium is looking full of confidence ahead of the match against Argentina in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

”Argentina must have some doubts now,” Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said.

Belgium produced a relentless series of attacks against the Americans, while their defense only started showing cracks in the final minutes of extra time.

In group play, Belgium had made it abundantly clear it was excellent in defense, but three low-scoring, one-goal victories had cast doubt that its forward line could create chances.

Then came 27 shots on goal against the Americans.

It took the best goalkeeping performance of this World Cup from Tim Howard to keep the U.S. team in the match until extra time, but the attacks just never stopped.

And again, Wilmots made savvy substitutions to finally force a way through.

Teenage striker Divock Origi first tired the opposing defense for 90 minutes and peppered Howard with several shots and headers. He then made way for Romelu Lukaku in extra time.

After three minutes, Lukaku was the master behind the first goal when the stretched U.S. defense failed to fully clear his cross, allowing Kevin De Bruyne to steal it back and score from close range.

De Bruyne returned the favor by setting up Lukaku for a booming drive that turned out to be the decisive goal.

”We knew that he could be the hero of the night,” Belgium captain Vincent Kompany said. ”It was so predictable.”

It was almost uncanny that two rejects of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho – Lukaku was twice sent on loan, and De Bruyne was transferred during the winter break – have been providing the goods for Wilmots in World Cup qualifying and at the tournament in Brazil.

And Mourinho’s protege, Eden Hazard, again failed to make the creative impact for Belgium. Instead, the sparkling play came from De Bruyne, who revitalized his career over the past months with Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

In truth, beyond Howard, the United States looked to be the easiest opponent in the second round with a spongy defense that somehow did not get totally overrun by first-round opposition.

Argentina should be a lot tougher, having conceded only three goals in four games.

Kompany should know what he is up against since he will be playing Manchester City teammates Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta, who usually are part of his line of defense.

And what’s more, the Belgians will no longer be favored against a team which includes Lionel Messi.

”That is a role that will now suit us,” Kompany said.

Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert

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